Empty Deceit and “Christian” Self-help

To the atheist, the conscience is the end product of a long line of evolutionary and social conditioning, so when it bothers them they are not really guilty of anything.  As James Sire puts it, they are really only guilty of guilt.  This is why we live in a culture of therapy.  The goal is to rid ourselves of the feeling of guilt instead of the guilt itself.  Unfortunately, we see this being translated into many churches as sin and the cross of Christ are ignored and replaced with a “Christian” self-help regimen.  So even under the name of Jesus, empty deceit can hold sway.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.  -Colossians 2:8-

Doug Eaton

10 Ways Daily Bible Reading Will Enhance Corporate Worship

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1. When a scripture is read you will already have some idea of the context of the passage and be able to draw more from it.

2. As you sing songs in worship you will recognize many of the passages of scriptures alluded to in the music, which will enrich the truths they are communicating.

3. You will better understand the significance of the ordinances like baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which will make you be able to see more of the imagery of the law and gospel in them.

4. As you study the text while it is being preached, you will be able to relate it to other passages of scripture not included in the sermon.

5. During discussion times you will better be able to contribute to discussions and edify others.

6. You will have a greater hunger for the word because you have been feeding on it and finding satisfaction in it. This hunger takes away much of the dryness that some people experience when attending church and makes it a pleasure to be in the house of the Lord.

7. In times of fellowship you will be able to apply the scripture to people’s lives as they talk about their daily joys and struggles.

8. It will reveal your sinfulness and give you strength as you fight against the indwelling sin in your own life, and make you better able to strengthen others. And better understanding this struggle produces contrition and begins to eliminate the pride which causes unneeded divisions in many churches.

9. As you desire success for your church, you will better understand what true church success is, and it will keep you trusting in the Lord who gives the increase instead of trusting in worldly tactics as you seek growth.

10. Since the Word moves us to prayer, you will be more prayerful as you spend time in the Lord’s house which is called a house of prayer.

This list is designed to let people know a few of the ways daily bible reading will enhance the corporate worship in bible teaching churches. If you attend a church where the bible is neglected and pop psychology is the main course, attending those types of churches while engaged in daily bible reading will only frustrate you. This is because you will find that motivational “preaching” neglects the main themes that run throughout scripture and replaces theology with therapy and replaces redemption with a self-help regimen. Of course even that frustration is a good thing.

-Doug Eaton-

Suffering and Ministry: A Quote by Charles Spurgeon

This is a short quote by Charles Spurgeon to remind us that sometimes suffering is part of our ministry.

“One Sabbath morning, I preached from the text, `My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ and though I did not say so, yet I preached my own experience. I heard my own chains clank while I tried to preach to my fellow-prisoners in the dark; but I could not tell why I was brought into such an awful horror of darkness, for which I condemned myself. On the following Monday evening, a man came to see me who bore all the marks of despair upon his countenance. His hair seemed to stand up right, and his eyes were ready to start from their sockets. He said to me, after a little parleying, “I never before, in my life, heard any man speak who seemed to know my heart. Mine is a terrible case; but on Sunday morning you painted me to the life, and preached as if you had been inside my soul.” By God’s grace I saved that man from suicide, and led him into gospel light and liberty; but I know I could not have done it if I had not myself been confined in the dungeon in which he lay. I tell you the story, brethren, because you sometimes may not understand your own experience, and the perfect people may condemn you for having it; but what know they of God’s servants? You and I have to suffer much for the sake of the people of our charge….You may be in Egyptian darkness, and you may wonder why such a horror chills your marrow; but you may be altogether in the pursuit of your calling, and be led of the Spirit to a position of sympathy with desponding minds.”

-Charles Spurgeon-

How to Be Irrelevant

What do pulpits, a stool, community, relationships, and the Word of God  have to do with being relevant?

Is The Love of the World Driving You or Your Church?

From Calvin’s Institutes…

“Whatever be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life. For since God well knows how strongly we are inclined by nature to a slavish love of this world, in order to prevent us from clinging too strongly to it, he employs the fittest reason for calling us back, and shaking off our lethargy. Every one of us, indeed, would be thought to aspire and aim at heavenly immortality during the whole course of his life. For we would be ashamed in no respect to excel the lower animals; whose condition would not be at all inferior to ours, had we not a hope of immortality beyond the grave. But when you attend to the plans, wishes, and actions of each, you see nothing in them but the earth. Hence our stupidity; our minds being dazzled with the glare of wealth, power, and honours, that they can see no farther. The heart also, engrossed with avarice, ambition, and lust, is weighed down and cannot rise above them. In short, the whole soul, ensnared by the allurements of the flesh, seeks its happiness on the earth. To meet this disease, the Lord makes his people sensible of the vanity of the present life, by a constant proof of its miseries.”

Read the entire section here:  Of Meditating on the Future Life.

The Life of William Carey in Less Than Ten Minutes

This is a brief video about the life of William Carey and what he accomplished. For more information I recommend this free mp3 lecture given By Timothy George of Beeson Seminary.

Was that Worship???

I had a co-worker once who loved just about everything Disney. He put a sticker on his car, and would proudly wear Disney hats and shirts. He was one of the managers at the store where I was working, and I remember one day when everything was going wrong he said to me, when this day is over I am going home and I’m going to watch an old Disney movie. When I pressed him a bit as to why he chose to watch an old Disney movie as opposed to anything else, he said, “Disney things just bring me back to when I was a kid.” Ultimately there was a sense of nostalgia from all the memories of growing up, and these things moved his affections in a way that made him feel a bit better after a hard day.

On another note (no pun intended), music has a way of doing the same type of things for us. I can remember in high school and college and it even happens now occasionally, when I would be listening to secular radio, and that new song that I had been waiting to hear would come on. Immediately, I would turn up the volume and I would be energized by what I was hearing, singing along with all the passion I could muster.

Now there really is nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia and being energized or moved by some piece of music, but when you put these things together with a Christian worship service or program we must be careful to discern our affections. I bring this up because sometimes I think we can be misled to think that we have had a time of worship or that we have heard a really good sermon simply because our affections were moved.

We must pay close attention to what is actually moving our affections in order to discern whether or not it is worship or even spiritual. When those first chords of our favorite praise song are played by the worship leader, are we being energized much like any natural man who hears a secular song that causes him to turn up the radio or are we really worshipping? And when grandma’s favorite Hymn starts to play and causes us to experience a time of peace and contentment while thinking back to when she used to sing it to us as a child, do we sometimes confuse that with worship?

Now I am not saying we should only sing boring songs or songs that don’t remind us of anything, or that it is impossible to really be worshipping during these times. In fact, I think it can be good at times to remember our family worship from when we were growing up, and I also think it is good that we still have people today writing new psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for us to sing today that get us excited. But what I want to stress is that simply because we have these moments does not mean we are worshipping or that we have been moved by in adoration of God. Charles Spurgeon once said that if he wanted to, he could move congregations to tears by telling them sad stories of mothers with sick children or energize them by telling them stories of men and women who accomplished great things. But he said it would be a waste of time unless they where moved to cry over their sin and take joy in Christ and the cross.

Even the natural man’s affections can be moved in strong ways, but those affections will never be worship unless they are moved by the word of God as it points us to Christ and what He has done for us. Whether we attend a modern or traditional worship service is not the biggest issue, but we must be sure to seek out worship and preaching that convicts us of sin, and shows us the remedy in Christ.

-Doug Eaton-